The hearing care industry is somewhat incestuous.
Nearly every idea, every mailer, and every marketing campaign is swiped from each other, with many of the ideas always coming from within.
Yet one of the biggest lessons that we have adopted as part of the Inner Circle is that the best ideas often come from other industries.
With that in mind, we’re going to look at three obscure industries and review some of the biggest lessons that we can ethically “steal” from them and apply to our private practice hearing care.
But First, A Note On “Stealing” Other People’s Ideas
We’re taught from a young age that stealing is bad … but borrowing is okay.
So maybe we need to reword this to “borrowing” ideas.
Because borrowing ideas from others has been at the core of business growth and advertising since day one.
Let me share an example with you.
One of the most successful advertisements of all time was created by a guy called David Ogilvy in the 1960s.
Ogilvy built one of the largest advertising agencies that the world has ever seen and was the grandfather of “direct-response marketing” – a style of marketing that is commonplace today.
But here’s the thing – at the time, his entire approach to advertising was very strange.
This advertisement, for example, was written in 1968 and ran in 1969:
The truth is, it’s a monstrosity of an advert.
Lots of small words, difficult to read, and no images.
Nobody expected it to perform. Yet this advert that ran in many newspapers for many years generated tens of millions of dollars in sales.
But here’s the thing … this advertisement was not original and Ogilvy did not initially come up with the concept for it.
Allow me to explain …
Below are 22 of the highest performing advertisements of all time (from deep within my swipe file that I use for occasional inspiration).
Highlighted in red is the ad that we just looked at, which was run in 1969.
This was followed by 8 other famous advertisements that were written by Ogilvy (all highlighted with a red “X”)…
But here’s where it gets interesting…
Twenty years earlier in 1947, a man called Louis Engle wrote an advert following a big argument with his management because they weren’t going to run it (as it was very different to anything that they had seen work in the past). However, it turned out that it generated 10,000 leads on its first run, and in the end, it was responsible for 3 million leads. And the little investment firm that was being promoted turned into a big Wall Street player. You may have heard of them – Merrill Lynch.
While everyone else forgot about this amazing achievement, David Ogilvy paid attention. He took the idea from Engle’s ad and then used the same principles to develop many other high-performing adverts.
But here’s the thing: Did Louis Engle come up with the concept of this advert? He didn’t. He studied two adverts written by a guy called John Caples in 1927 (on the bottom row).
But these two ads from 1927 drew inspiration from these two (written in 1918 and 1919):
The lesson is, if the top performing 22 advertisements of all time — that were all seen as unique when they were initially run — took inspiration from each other, then why do we feel so hesitant to borrow great ideas from other industries?
Success leaves clues … and there are lessons from many other industries that we can learn from and adapt to our clinics.
Three Industries To Study And “Steal/Borrow” Great Ideas From
Now that we don’t feel so guilty about stealing ideas from other industries, allow me to share what I believe to be the two obscure industries that we can ethically steal ideas from.
Note that this may feel a little weird, and I am in no way saying that what you do is in any way similar to the below industries, but there are very specific seminaries which I highlight.
#1 – Motor Industry/Car Dealerships
I know what you’re thinking, but hear me out.
The hearing care industry is nothing like sleazy car salespeople … and you’re right.
But no matter how much you hate it, you have to admit that the typical “sales” journey has some similarities.
- A car dealership often sells cars on a 3 to 4-year finance plan.
- They want to upgrade you to new cars by the end of your 4th
- They run mailers/campaigns to invite you to explore new cars at the 3-year mark.
- They understand that the lifetime value of customers is high and invest into the relationship to drive repeat sales.
- They’re masters of introducing the next new car (and make it appear much better than your existing car).
Although, what they sell and the reasons they sell it are very, very different from you. The typical process and the timelines have a lot in common. It means that there are some lessons that we can take from the industry and adapt for our unique circumstances.
Some of the key lessons that you can borrow from the motor industry include:
- The “try this” play – If you have ever taken your car to be serviced or repaired, then dealerships often offer you a courtesy car to use until your car is repaired/ready.This courtesy car is nearly always a better model than your current car.It’s intentional, as once you’ve had better, you want better. Consider how this could apply to you.If a patient comes in for a repair, or even a cleaning – could you fit them in some new technology to trial or wear until their repair/cleaning is complete?
- The service/health check – Many dealerships invite you to have your car serviced and a full health check just before your warranty expires.It’s positioned as great customer service and shows that they truly care for your needs by helping you to make a cash savings before you would have to pay out of pocket once your warranty expires.The truth is, they get you through the door and have an opportunity to spend some time with you to introduce some upgrade options.
Could you do something similar? Could you have a special “advanced clean and check” that patients are uniquely invited to 3 months before their warranty expires? It ensures their devices receive a thorough clean before, with any repairs still being covered by their warranty, but it allows you to get them through the door for a conversation/potential trial.
- Documenting purchases on social media – One of the most powerful ways that dealerships use social media is by sharing pictures of their customers standing alongside their new cars.It is perfect social media content and the people within the pictures then share the pictures to show the world they have a new car. Although patients may not want a picture of themselves showing their new hearing aids, you could create a reason for patients to happily have their picture taken that you can then share on social media.A great example of this is Duncan Hearing Healthcare who created a “Selfie Frame” and developed a process where their front desk team took their pictures.
Next time you visit your car dealership, take special note of the small things that they do and question why. Similarly, with any direct mail or emails that you receive from them, consider what the key lessons are and if there are any ideas that you could borrow.
#2 – Jewelers
Once again, jewelers sell a very different product for very different reasons, but there are two key things that you/they have in common.
- The customer walks away with a small box that they have paid several thousand dollars for.
- They are focused on how they make the customer feel – something that the best-performing clinics also understand.
It means that there are lessons that you can borrow from them and adapt for your needs.
Some of the stand-out observations are:
- The Handling/Experience
You may have noticed that jewelers treat their items like they’re worth their price tag.
If you ask to see a necklace, then they put on a special glove, they then put it on some padded felt, and they make it feel like it’s incredibly valuable.
The question is, do you do the same with your several thousand dollars hearing devices, or do they get pulled out of a cardboard box and roughly handled?
I completely understand the products are different – but just imagine if your hearing devices were given a similar level of treatment that jewelry receives. It would be deemed as much more valuable in the patient’s eyes.
- The Experience
When you visit a jeweler, it feels like a premium experience.
You have to ring a buzzer on the door to enter, they pour you a glass of champagne, and they make you feel like the most important customer in the world. This enhances the experience and results in the average transaction value increasing.
Consider some of the lessons. Now, I’m not suggesting that intoxicating your patients is the right decision – but what could you borrow and add to your experience to make your patients’ experience feel more special?
- The Packaging
When you walk away from a jewelers, you often walk away with a beautiful branded bag, a branded box, and a handful of paperwork that makes your purchase feel even more justified.
What do your patients walk away with?
Could you have custom bags printed?
Do they receive luxurious feeling print materials?
What does the box look like?
These small touches could enhance their experience, minimize returns, and develop a “talk trigger.”
#3 – Premium Hotels
There’s no shortage of hotels to stay or places to get coffee. Both are commodities in highly dense marketplaces. Yet there’s a very good reason why brands such as the Ritz Carlton and Starbucks can charge significantly more than their industry averages.
It’s because they have built their value proposition around delivering an experience. This approach means that they can demand premium fees, attract high-quality clientele, and create a point of difference that positions them as the market leader by proxy.
Yet there are lessons that we can all borrow from brands such as the Ritz Carlton to implement gold-standard customer service.
1. Greeting by Name
One of the nice touches that the Ritz Carlton focuses on as part of their “Three Steps of Service” is a warm and sincere greeting. They know your name as you walk into their hotel.
From reading your luggage tags and communication via radio to knowing your time of arrival and seeing your ID in advance, they have a range of ways that they’re able to do this. Yet you have an advantage. You know when patients should be arriving for their appointments and your patient forms give you rough indications including their age/gender.
Could your PCCs be tasked with welcoming patients by name and greeting them sincerely? If they get the occasional name wrong, then it’s not the end of the world, but it’s a small touch that will be remembered.
2. Take Notes and Action Them
The Ritz Carlton remembers the preferences of their guests. If you order a coffee and decide to have a latte with oat milk, then you can guarantee that they’ll remember this on your next visit and have one prepared.
Consider the small preferences of your patients and how you can keep notes ahead of appointments.
It could be their choice of drink on arrival, or you could take notes of the conversation that you have with patients that could be reviewed ahead of your next appointment. Just imagine if you asked a patient how their daughter’s softball game went or how their vacation to the Maldives was … these turn professional relationships into relationships for life.
3. The $2,000 Empowerment
One aspect of the Ritz’s service that has received a lot of coverage is the fact that the Ritz empowers its employees to spend up to $2,000 to solve customer problems without asking for a manager. Yes, you read that right. Ritz-Carlton employees can spend up to $2,000 per incident, not per year, to rescue a guest experience.
Now, the figure is not the important part. But consider if you gave your staff permission to spend a certain figure without permission to deliver a “wow” experience or solve a patient frustration.
It would result in your team being able to deliver more moments of magic, and if the budget was built in (or even added onto your pricing) – then it would allow you to move quicker without you getting involved.
The Key Lessons
There are lessons you can take from almost every business, and once you become obsessed with this stuff, you find yourself walking around with your eyes wide open.
- It may be a piece of customer service
- It may be a mailer you receive
- Or it may be the way a company structures their pricing.
Taking inspiration from others and questioning how it can be applied to your clinic will see you innovate and naturally stand out from a crowd of competitors that continues to do the same things on repeat.